Monday, January 04, 2010

Harmonizing With Evil

Elias and others take some good stabs at my thoughts on acausal synchronicity in a new thread at the BY Forum. Elias makes this simple point to start off:
"...causality and mechanics are twin brothers. The laws of mechanics (and Newtonian physics) make it possible for us to build a gun. The gun is a perfect expression of the principles of cause-an-effect, and it is the single most effective instrument by which evil rules (and ruins) the earth. Before the gun there was the sword and before the sword there was the stone-tipped spear."
As I previously have tried to make clear, causation only makes sense within a single plane of existence, such as the gross material plane. If we analyze the workings of a gun in its purely material mechanics, we can say that it operates by causation. Finger pulls trigger, trigger releases pin, pin strikes bullet, bullet explodes, lead flies out barrel, hits man, causes injuries, man dies. So far, seemingly all causation. And yet, how did the finger pull that trigger? What process caused the man to decide to pull the trigger of the gun that killed his fellow man? I don't merely mean the psychological causes of the act, but the literal cause. We can only find genuine mechanical causes if we analyze those causes further on a purely mechanical level, by presuming that the brain is merely a material mechanism guided solely by biological and chemical laws of causation, shaped by purely material evolutionary forces, all of which combine to produce a reaction-response of "finger pulling trigger". If that is how we are to look at it, where is the evil in any of it? It's purely deterministic.There is no conscious choice involved, and hence, no evil. Nor any good.

Causation falls apart as an explanation for human events when we introduce consciousness as an active part of the process. Any discussion of conscious choice, or any levels of conscious involvement in the act of firing the gun - including the act of making guns in the first place - requires that we account for consciousness and how it actually operates. Once we do that, we begin to see that the entire process is actually governed by principles of consciousness, and not principles of material causation. To say that consciousness causes the finger to pull the trigger is hard to justify, since we cannot find a causative agent in consciousness. Consciousness operates in synchronicity with the mechanics of material nature, not as either a cause or an effect. The problem is that consciousness tends to identify with the objects of nature, and thus, with the physical body and its mechanisms, and in so doing, it assumes that a causal series of events accounts for what occurs in our lives, when there is no such process going on.

Consciousness tends to leave itself out of the picture, and looks at the material world as a purely material, mechanical event. This leaves a causal explanation possible, and yet this also leaves consciousness high and dry and uninvolved in the process, as if consciousness were actually removed from the equation, and at best only a distant witness to events that are going on outside of consciousness, and governed by causal events that are not linked to consciousness, since consciousness cannot cause anything at all to occur. The resulting viewpoint must either exclude consciousness and rely on purely mechanistic explanations, or presume that consciousness is an active entity capable of causing effects in the body, without actually being able to find such an entity.

To find out how guns fire bullets, we have to account for the consciousness which supposedly decides to pull the trigger, and buy the gun, or make the gun, or participate in a world of guns, and so on down the line. To do that, we have to look at the process of guns shooting people in a multi-dimensional sense, as a series of patterns in consciousness on many different planes of conscious involvement, which precludes any simple causal explanation.

The problem of evil, in other words, can only exist if evil is a conscious choice, which means that we cannot look at it as a purely mechanical matter of guns shooting all by themselves. What is evil about a gun, after all, if there is no consciousness behind its appearance and use? For guns to embody evil, there  must be a conscious choice by individuals somehow producing guns that are used to shoot people. To assume a causal series of events with that final result, we have to presume that consciousness is a cause, somewhere down the line. But is this the case? Can we really point to consciousness acting as a cause of anything? We see the finger pulling the trigger, but where does consciousness pull the finger? We have to presume a conscious actor who causes this finger to pull, but we don't actually find such a thing anywhere. We have our own awareness, and we are aware of the finger pulling the trigger. We are aware of this process, but where is there a cause?

I suggest that we have so much trouble locating this conscious cause because it does not exist. There is no conscious actor deciding anything, and making anything happen. We merely have a confused state of affairs in which people think they are causing things to happen, but they are not. They are living in an illusion, presuming themselves to be actors, when in reality that is not how events occur. This illusion creates a sense of disturbance, of disharmony in us,.and this disharmony is what I would call "evil". That is of course somewhat different from what most would describe as evil, but that is because most people look at evil as a causal force that  produces evil effects. I suggest something quite different, that evil is a state of mind in which we are deluded into thinking that we are causal actors in a causal universe filled with other causal actors, all of which creates a deep disharmony in our conscious awareness of ourselves and the world. That we don't think of ourselves as evil in that disharmonious view of the universe is do not to our lacking any evil, but to our virtually infinite ability to project evil onto others, on both the local and cosmic scale.

John picks up on the notion that this could be considered a cause all its own, when he asks:
"What's the difference between being 'created by' and being 'caused by'?
The difference is that creating an illusion does not cause any of the elements within that illusion to come into being. The illusion itself is not actually caused, it is itself merely an expression of the original disharmony itself, nothing more.

For example, if we fall asleep and dream that we are shot at by an evil man, can we really say that falling asleep caused us to be shot at? No, it did not. It merely provided the conditions under which we might dream, and thus fall under the spell of various illusions in our minds. The shooting was uncaused, it arose spontaneously in our dreaming mind. Similarly, when we fall under the spell of the illusion of causation, we cannot say that anything we experience as a result was actually caused by falling under that illusion - it merely provided the conditions (of ignorance) in which such misunderstandings could arise and take hold. So none of the events we experience are actually the causal results even of our ignorance. There is no beginning, or end, to that causal chain, because there never was any causation to begin with, there was only the illusion of causation that was a result of identifying with a limited, one-dimensional viewpoint that excludes consciousness from its view.

So, this analysis begins to unravel the causal viewpoint entirely, if you take it far enough. The result is a view of the universe in which evil is itself uncaused, and yet one in which evil can still be understood to be the result of our ignorance and illusions, even if any and all acts of evil are not caused even by that ignorance and illusion. How can this be? It is because the universe arises in consciousness, by the law and principle of a universal harmony and synchronicity, and not by cause and effect. Evil is a viewpoint, not a cause, and it is the viewpoint that excludes consciousness and sees the world as a cause and effect mechanism of universal disharmony. What it does not understand is that this disharmony is the sole problem to be addressed, not any series of causes and effects which we might join in to produce a happy ending. It sees disharmony as either the effect of evil acts by evil people, or as the cause of evil acts by evil people, but it does not understand that disharmony is essential a wrong view which gives rise to the illusion of causes and effects, good and evil. The notion that ridding the world of evil is to be achieved by engaging in a battle of causes and effects, of good acts that can cancel or destroy evil, is made to seem inevitable, necessary, and the obligation of all "good" people. The notion that this very viewpoint creates evil is not taken seriously, because even that is considered a "cause", as John seemed to imply, because they cannot imagine any form of creation that is not causal in nature.

Virtually every religion or mythology or even every fable and popular story has its notion of an evil causal agent who must be battled and defeated. We have the devil, the asuras, the criminals, the CIA, some government, liberals, conservatives, some dictator, Hitler, the Jews, the Muslims, the terrorists, the apostates, the heretics, etc. The solution is to destroy this evil, by engaging in the battle of cause and effect. This is always the proposed solution, one way or another, because causation is deemed to be the law of the universe, rather than an illusion that creates the very problem it seeks to solve. But in my view, this desire to bring a final end to conflict by eliminating the cause of evil only perpetuates the problem of evil and even feeds it so that it grows to truly monstrous proportions. The illusion is that such battles can ever be finally won, and that evil can ever be eliminated by this method. The truth is that it never works out that way, because the very viewpoint that evil is caused, and can thus be defeated by a counter-cause, is not only false, it is the very source of evil. Evil is simply the disharmony of consciousness when it does not understand its own nature, and attributes its own nature to some cause that can therefore by changed and affected by another, opposite cause, giving rise to the eternal battle of dualism - good vs. evil. .

For example, I saw the new 3D movie "Avatar" by James Cameron yesterday. A really great movie in many ways, technically, artistically, visually - at least for your big-budget blockbuster genre. And there's a better-than-I-expected new-agey spiritual dimension to it as well. But of course, it still creates its own version of the evil disharmonious bad guys and the good, harmonious heroes. And of course, all is resolved by a giant battle in which good triumphs over evil, as if that ever really works. At least some sense of harmony and interconnectedness is implied to be of value, but that gets abandoned as the solution is still one of fighting a big battle that satisfies the audience's need for a causal resolution to the conflict. A more interesting (but far less lucrative) plot would have pointed out how these kinds of battles simply sow the seeds for further disharmony down the line. The Nav'ii are seen as harmonious people connected to the spirit and their planet's living creatures, but somehow that connection doesn't apply to the corporate earth guys, who justly deserve their deaths and banishment.

A much more interesting movie that comes to mind for me is Kurosawa's "Dodes Ka Den", a beautiful movie about the hopelessly poor and deranged inhabitants of a garbage dump in post-war Japan. In one scene, a perpetually drunken and violent man who is so frustrated by his hopeless life and the strains of trying to raise a family under impossible conditions goes on a rampage through the ramshackle dump, smashing people's tin houses and threatening to kill anyone who gets in the way, until another resident, an old man who practices Zen, walks up to him without any fear and kindly and good-naturedly asks, 'You must be so very tired, would you like me to finish for you?" He offers to take the club the man is using to smash everything and do the smashing for him. The man is stopped dead by this proposal. He looks at the old man, and is so discombobulated by the notion of the old man doing his smashing for him, that he just drops the club, goes back to his hut, and collapses in bed.

The principle demonstrated here is one of harmonious, compassionate action that is not designed to defeat or join in the battle of causes and effects, but to harmonize with what is disharmonious, and by that harmony, to render the disharmony unworkable and obsolete. Kurosawa, himself a practitioner of Zen, understood something profound about the value of harmonious action, rather than of action designed to cause an effect by battling causes and effects.

The principle indicated by this is not merely certain kinds of action which are harmonious, but a state of consciousness which is in harmony with the true nature of things, and that means all things, including the disharmonious. By living in conscious harmony with that which is disharmonious, we render the disharmonious unworkable. It falls apart of its own, because it requires a certain kind of consciousness to continue. When that consciousness is interrupted, it cannot be continued, and harmony takes precedence. The consciousness which produces disharmony is anything that is unreal, especially the notion that cause and effect is what rules this world, rather than synchronous harmony. Disharmony is nothing more than a viewpoint in consciousness which cannot recognize harmonious synchronicity as the principle of life, rather than cause and effect. It is out of step with reality, but reality is never out of step with it. Those who live by reality, are therefore also in harmonious relationship to disharmony, and by persisting in that harmonious relationship, they transform disharmony, not through any causal force or agency, but merely by making disharmony obsolete.

The problem of evil does not go away easily only because we tend to view evil as either a cause or an effect, or a series of these things, that if we can stop it somehow, will come to an end. Once we get involved in trying to come up with a causal solution to evil, we find ourselves in a virtually endless battle that over time seems hopeless, because the forces of chaos and randomness alone seem aligned towards unconsciousness and evil, if only by default. Stupidity and darkness seems to rule the world, and light and love are seen as rare flowers that briefly emerge from the rubble, only to be squashed by uncaring forces.

The effort to stop or prevent or overturn evil means that we think it is a cause and effect problem to be solved by a better cause and effect. This is why it always comes back to haunt us, despite our best efforts to undo its cause or prevent its effects. The only process that truly works is one in which our own consciousness is awakened beyond the illusions of cause and effect, and in which we are thereby freed from the cycle of cause and effect, and are able to live in harmony with whatever arises, even disharmonious illusions perpetuated by people who seem to be in opposition to harmonious existence. By living in harmony with what arises, what arises also naturally becomes harmonized to us, and its disharmony is undermined and replaced by harmony. In the process, evil simply drops away, almost inexplicably, if one is looking for a cause of its disappearance.

The process in human life is more complex than this, of course, in large part because people are so wedded to the viewpoint of causation, and harmony is often seen as merely an ineffective softy's approach. In part this is because harmony is not understood as a viewpoint in consciousness, but is itself seen as something to be achieved by cause and effect, or is understood as a method aimed at causing an effect.of further harmony, but this is simply not how it actually works, and is itself an example of a disharmonious viewpoint that will only sow more trouble. Harmony is a radical viewpoint rooted in an acausal view of the universe, that understands that things occur without cause, but by a principle of synchronous patterning on all levels simultaneously. We are so wedded to the viewpoint of cause and effect, however, that this seems both crazy and impossible.

This is why Ramana famously said that an old woman who finds peace in her prayers does more for the world than all the intellectuals combined. That old woman is living a life of harmony by resorting to God rather than to cause and effect notions of how to change the world. If we live in that way, we have a profound effect on the world, far greater than the strenuous efforts of those who try to change the world by cause and effect methods. By resorting to the principle of harmonious synchronicity, we are creating a far greater empowerment for the world than the dismal acts of those who are trying their best to produce positive results. This is because reality is the best medicine, and cause and effect are not based in reality.

It is a disharmonious mind which picks up a gun and fires it at another human being. Whereas a harmonious mind undermines the ability even of the disharmonious to hold a gun steady. Fighting causes with other causes just perpetuates the illusion of cause and effect, whereas fighting disharmonious illusions of evil with harmonious reality brings an end to this abberation without a shot being fired.


Elias said...

Reading your piece, I can't help seeing Physicist Robert Oppenheimer watching the first atom bomb explode and (famously) saying " I am become Shiva, the destroyer of worlds..."

In my discussion of your thesis I am getting to the question of causality within consciousness. I find both mechanical causality and non-mechanical causality at work in consciousness. I hope to post that essay today. Cheers.


Aurelius said...

Thanks for the article. I now know that working to help abused children as well as mentally handicapped children is really part of the illusion, or rather, my disharmonius mind - which will probably only perpetuate that illusory condition of theirs as well. Keep spreading the word!